Jan. 17 (UPI) -- The Norwegian military said about 300 U.S. Marines have arrived in Norway for a six-month deployment, which coincides with a separate NATO-support effort to reinforce its border with Russia.
Most of the 330 Marines arrived via a U.S. military plane at the Trondheim Airport on Monday. Norway said the arrival of the U.S. forces is part of a previous bilateral agreement between Oslo and Washington, D.C.
The U.S. troops that arrived will be replaced in six months by Marines who will also be deployed for six months.
Norwegian Col. Hakon Waro said the U.S. forces will undergo basic skills winter training.
"Basic skills is about how to dress appropriately and to move efficiently in cold weather and winter terrain," Waro said in a statement. "They will also learn to drink and eat properly, and how to best utilize and maintain their equipment in cold weather."
Russia criticized the arrival of the U.S. troops, who will be stationed hundreds of miles from Russia's border.
Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said the move "certainly will not improve relations."
"The relationship between Norway and Russia is put to a test now," Zakharova said. "Instead of developing economic cooperation, Norway is choosing to deploy United States troops on Norwegian soil."
In the separate Operation Atlantic Resolve in support of NATO, the United States has deployed troops in Europe that will train in Poland, Germany, Bulgaria, Estonia, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Romania and Slovakia for the next nine months as a show of force to directly respond to increased Russian aggression, U.S. Air Force Lt. Gen. Tim Ray, deputy commander of U.S. European Command previously said.
Editor's note: An earlier version of this story described Operation Atlantic Resolve as a NATO operation. It is a U.S.-funded operation intended to support NATO.